Letters to the Editor: smoking, war and the NZSO

Photo: ODT files
Photo: ODT files
Today's Letters to the Editor from readers cover topics including the NZSO's plans for the South, the decision to repeal smokefree laws, and the tangled web in Gaza.


World-class, seldom seen in these parts

Otago Daily Times readers who have been New Zealand Symphony Orchestra supporters and who are prepared to wade through the pomposities and bureaucratic jargon of the orchestra’s future plans, will discover the NZSO is going to give just one public concert in Dunedin next year (plus on the same day a schools’ concert).

Christchurch will get just four.

Some taxpayers may well feel their $18 million contribution to the orchestra is money well spent (Wellington, 17 concerts; Auckland, 12 concerts).

But the NZSO is, by statute, a national orchestra, obliged to serve the whole of New Zealand.

I note that Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra describes itself as "New Zealand's full-time professional metropolitan orchestra, serving the country's largest and most vibrant city with a comprehensive programme of concerts and education and outreach activities".

One wonders therefore if it really needs 12 additional concerts from the NZSO; or, indeed, whether Orchestra Wellington, with 95 semi-professional players and a full concert schedule, really needs to be supplemented by 17 NZSO concerts.

Still, as the NZSO says in one of its website policy statements, "We are world-class in everything we do."

Given the global shrinkage of public arts funding and performance opportunities in many Western countries at present, especially in the United kingdom, this may not be reassuring news to southern patrons.

Nor do the orchestra’s plans beyond 2024 look at all comforting to those of us in the South who have supported its concerts for many, many years.

I urge readers to study them.

Meantime, perhaps one or more of our southern so-called "rich listers" will step up with long-term and generous funding for our greatest local music asset, the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra.

Bryan James


Appalling decision

Politicians like Trump, Johnson and Bolsonaro ignored significant scientific advice by denying the dangers posed by Covid-19. Their policies favoured short-term economic protection and populism over excessively high mortality rates and severe disruption to healthcare systems. Consequences of these poorly judged actions are increasingly evident.

Politicians like Luxon, Seymour and Peters are ignoring significant scientific advice when reversing well-established effective New Zealand measures combating ill-effects of tobacco. Effective programmes implemented over many years are being emulated in other OECD countries. The price of this appalling decision will be assessed in terms of short-term economic gains and benefits to tobacco companies and their marketers, in contrast to inevitable increase in long-term morbidity and mortality rates plus resource and financial pressures on our already failing health system.

We shall support our new Minister of Health, Dr Shane Reti, if he stands up and objects to this decision which penalises his people disproportionally. We the public should voice and demonstrate our strongest objection to this short-term expedient politicking at the expense of our nation’s health and future.

Tobacco kills.

Gil Barbezat
Emeritus Professor of Medicine, Dunedin


Yes Minister

How appropriate it would be if our new Ministry of Regulation became known as Administrative Affairs and then David Seymour could really play at being Jim Hacker. Of course, Jim Hacker never achieved anything notable as minister, but he did become prime minister. Perhaps this is David Seymour's inspiration?

Rob Lawson


Innocence, war, and the tangled Gaza web

The ODT quoted Cr Steve Walker (24.11.23) the other day as saying "With the ongoing indiscriminate killing of innocent women, children, elderly and other innocents with zero connection to Hamas terrorists …" .

Firstly the Israeli strikes are not indiscriminate. They are targeted against the Hamas terrorists, but it is an unfortunate fact of all wars that innocent civilians are caught up in the fight. If we were to blame Israel for that then we would need to go back and condemn New Zealand for every war we have fought in. I don’t think the Returned Services Association would appreciate that (and rightly so).

I wonder how innocent and disconnected from Hamas are the people of Gaza? In a November 14 poll done by the Arab World for Research and Development, 75% of respondents agreed with the attack and 74.7% agreed that they support a single Palestinian state "from the river to the sea". 83% of Palestinian respondents in the West Bank supported the attack, while the Palestinians of Gaza, while not showing as much support, still had an overwhelming majority of support at 63.6%.

When you see these figures you have to ask yourself about the culpability of many who as Cr Walker put it, are "innocents with zero connection to Hamas". The children I would certainly class as completely innocent and their loss is painful.

But who can speak of the connections of the others to Hamas? You cannot blame Israel for a war that Hamas started and has stated on public record, "we will do this a second, and third, and fourth time". It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that Israel has no other option but to eliminate an existential threat just as the Allies did with Hitler and the Third Reich.

Pastor Nigel Woodley


Address Letters to the Editor to: Otago Daily Times, PO Box 517, 52-56 Lower Stuart St, Dunedin. Email: editor@odt.co.nz